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Jamaicans facing more visa restrictions

Baugh cites bad behaviour as main factor

BY ALICIA DUNKLEY Observer staff reporter dunkleya@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, April 02, 2010    

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COUNTRIES in Latin America have joined the list of states that have imposed visa restrictions on Jamaicans because of the bad behaviour of some of the country's nationals.

In the past decade countries such as the Cayman Islands, Britain, and Costa Rica have imposed visa restrictions for Jamaicans, citing the number of crimes committed by Jamaican nationals and drug trafficking as the underlying factors.

Appearing yesterday before the Standing Finance Committee of Parliament, which is examining the 2010/2011 Estimates of Expenditure, Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Kenneth Baugh said Latin American countries have been following suit.

"Jamaica in particular is having a difficult time even in Latin American countries because visa provisions are being applied to us where it never existed before because of the way we behave in those countries," the foreign affairs minister said.

Dr Baugh was responding to questions posed by Opposition spokesperson on foreign affairs, Anthony Hylton, about the imposition which he described as "unfair immigration rules" in the context of the country's trading arrangements with Europe and within the Caribbean Community.

Hylton lamented that cultural groups, musicians and others were finding free movement difficult despite the presence of mutual agreements.

"It's a very difficult issue even though we signed the EPA (Economic Partnership Agreement) and other free-trade arrangements," Baugh admitted.

"The question of the movement of people and having access to territories in Europe, there is no question they will apply their own rules. We certainly will negotiate and deal with each issue as it arises because these are individual countries we are dealing with," he added.

Jamaicans, though, will have to behave better, Baugh noted.

"We have to appeal to our Jamaicans who go abroad to do business, our artistes who perform in these countries and our young people who end up living and working in many of these countries.

"Sometimes we defeat ourselves. We create our own stumbling blocks because of our behaviour.

"We have to make a special appeal to Jamaicans that the way we conduct ourselves when we go to other countries when we get opportunities is creating difficulties for others," he continued.

In response to queries from Opposition Member of Parliament for Western Hanover Ian Hayles as to whether there was a similar problem with the United States Government in terms of visa renewals and new visa applications, Baugh said the situation was normal.

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